I’ve been thinking a lot about comfort lately.
Physical comfort, like safety, warmth, and nourishment for me and my family really resonate at this time of year, but so does emotional comfort. By emotional comfort I mean things that feed my soul—things that aren’t absolutely necessary to survive, but that help make a satisfying, fulfilling life. For me, these things include friends, great books, amazing food, and crosswords (yes, I know, I’m a strange one). During most of the year, I like to mix things up. I’ll hang out with different friends, read different books, try different recipes, and try not to repeat the same crossword puzzle.
But around this time of year, I find myself returning to my classics:
Tea with friends. Hot cocoa with marshmallows. Peppermint bark. Turkey roasted with sage, rosemary and thyme. When Harry Met Sally. Jane Austen.
Yes, Jane Austen. During the holiday season, for the past twenty years, I have re-read Pride and Prejudice (and sometimes Persuasion) to get myself into the holiday mood. For those of you who have no idea what P&P is about, I would implore, beg, and beseech you to run, not walk, and grab a copy. Since I am such a big Jane Austen fan, it is easy for me to assume that everyone else is familiar with her works and in the past, when writing about P&P, I’ve written something to the effect of “I won’t insult your intelligence by summarizing the plot.”
Recently, however, I found out that my best friend hadn’t read it, so I’ll provide a short summary of the most important plot point: In the novel, the hero, Mr. Darcy, insults the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, the first time he lays eyes on her, and Miss Bennet spends most of the rest of the book absolutely furious with him. Until he redeems himself and they fall in love.
What is about P&P that brings me home? In large part, it has to do with the first time I read it in high school and thought yes, this—so the nostalgia factor is definitely at play. But it’s also the book’s sentiment. No matter how much we misunderstand each other, no matter our prejudices (and pride), no matter how muddled and confusing things get, there is always hope that we will shift our perspective, see things in a new light, find love, and get our happily ever afters.
So tell me, what are your favorite books to read (or re-read) over the holidays? Bonus points if you have a traditional favorite! And just because even more cheer is welcome this time of year, I’m giving away a paper copy of Blaze of Winter (my latest novel which is chock full of Christmas goodness) to one random commenter. U.S. only, please.
WINNER, Maureen – congrats!! Thanks all for blogging with us –
Raised in a sleepy little Connecticut town, Elisabeth draws on her upbringing to write small-town romances. Her summers spent living and working on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard were the inspiration for the Star Harbor series, which kicked off with Deep Autumn Heat and Blaze of Winter, and continues with Long Simmering Spring. Currently, Elisabeth lives in Northern California with her husband and three children. She is a card-carrying member of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
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